Spanish footballer accused of inappropriately touching mascot to face trial

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Spanish soccer player Hugo Mallo will stand trial after being accused of inappropriately touching a mascot before a match in 2019, court officials said Wednesday.

Mallo, who denies any wrongdoing, was with Celta Vigo when the alleged incident happened before a Spanish league match against Espanyol.

Mallo, 32, currently plays for Brazilian club Internacional.

Prosecutors and the defendant are seeking payment of a fine if Mallo is convicted.

They said Mallo inappropriately touched the breasts of the woman wearing the Espanyol parakeet costume as players lined up to greet each other before kick-off.

Sports daily As, which first reported that Mallo was to stand trial, said the player had told the court that television footage of the incident showed he had done nothing wrong. The court, however, said the footage was sufficient to open a trial, which is expected to take place in July.

Local radio station COPE said it had spoken with Mallo and he said he was confident of an acquittal based on the footage. He said he was fully focused on the match, in which Celta needed a good result in the fight against relegation.

The case against the Spanish defender, a former Celta captain, was initially dismissed, but that decision was overturned on appeal.

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